RT: Pakistan is turning away from the US and looking east for its future partnerships, with the president now firming up the country’s friendship with China.
Asif Ali Zardari hailed the strengthening ties between the two countries on Saturday as he met with Chinese State Councillor Dai Bingguo. The senior official was visiting Pakistan to mark the 60th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations and the conclusion of the China-Pakistan Friendship Year.
The visit came shortly after Beijing and Islamabad finalized a $1.6 billion currency swap agreement which will allow the two countries to boost their trade relations and decrease the involvement of the dollar. Currently China-Pakistan trade stands at $10 billion a year, but Dai has called for that figure to be increased to $15 billion over the next three to four years.
China is strengthening its role as a regional leader, and Pakistan is among key targets for Beijing’s influence building strategy. It is investing in a number of big construction projects in the country, including the Karakorum Highway and Gwadar Port, both of which will improve China’s transport links with energy-rich Gulf nations. It will also help Pakistan develop its nuclear power industry.
The Chinese army also regularly performs joint war games with Pakistani forces. Islamabad is seeking China’s military support against its long-time rival, India, while China needs a stable and well-defended Pakistan to stop any future incursion into its territory of extremists from volatile Afghanistan.